The Disabled Guy- I started referring to him as that online because that's what he is and he knows it. He is aware that he's disabled. He despises the softened, politically correct things people use to describe him.
He is disabled. Handicapped. If he wasn't disabled, he'd have a job and be earning a paycheck instead of living off disability from the Veteran's Administration.
He was twenty-eight years old (six months and ten days after his honorable discharge from the Army) when he was felled by the stroke. And that's literal- felled. He fell down. He was unloading the trailer to the semi-truck he drove (he became a long-haul trucker after the Army) when he staggered, dropped the box he was carrying and crumbled. This was told to me by the man who caught him. He said that Jerry had been talking and walking just fine and they were about half-done with their work. That's when he stopped talking, staggered and fell. The man, who looked like a black Arnold Schwarzenegger, caught him before he fell all the way down. Jerry ended up with only a scraped knee (as opposed to a broken arm, broken hip, head wound).
I've told this story so many times before- we were living in Savannah, Georgia. He had the stroke in a suburb of Washington DC and was in the hospital in Laurel, Maryland. Our kids were 5 1/2, 3, and 1 1/2 years old at the time. They have no memories of their father from before the stroke. He is paralyzed on his right side, has no use of his right hand and arm and walks with a slight limp.
The last fifteen years have been a challenge and filled with ups and downs and sometimes spirals and loop-de-loops. It hasn't all been good and it hasn't all been bad.
The disorders Jerry has- aphasia and apraxia- are common with brain injuries.
Fluent Aphasia (also called Wernicke's aphasia): People with Wernicke's aphasia usually have great difficulty understanding speech, and they are often unaware of their mistakes.
Non-fluent Aphasia: They often omit small words such as "is," "and," and "the." For example, a person with Broca's aphasia may say, "Walk dog," meaning, "I will take the dog for a walk."
There are other types of aphasia, each of which results from damage to different language areas in the brain. Some people may have difficulty repeating words and sentences even though they can speak and they understand the meaning of the word or sentence. Others may have difficulty naming objects even though they know what the object is and what it may be used for. **end of source**
Jerry has a combination of those three types. Sometimes he's unaware of his mistakes. We don't laugh at him or tease him when he's unaware. When we're alone (without our kids around), I'll let him know what his mistake was, but I don't make a scene out of the situation. He also drops words or adds words to what he's trying to say. Such as: "I beg to differ" comes out as "I beg to be differ". Plus he has trouble coming up with seemingly easy to recall words. He interchanges gender pronouns, calling our pets him or her (despite the actual gender of the animal). He also calls the kids by the wrong name at times- and by that, I mean he will pull a name out of his past from 25 years ago and call our kids by that name.
From the same site as above- the definition of Jerry's type of Apraxia.
Apraxia of speech: A severe speech disorder characterized by inability to speak, or a severe struggle to speak clearly. Apraxia of speech occurs when the oral- motor muscles do not or cannot obey commands from the brain, or when the brain cannot reliably send those commands. Children with apraxia can be helped significantly with intensive speech therapy.
And, of course, the more tired he is, the worse it gets.
I asked Jerry if he would mind if I started a blog about the "crazy shit" he says. He didn't care. I share snippets of our conversations with a few message boards I frequent. I have to say, the snopes Urban Legends Message Board group is by far the most appreciative and are part of the reason I thought about starting the blog.
The first few posts will be done from memory as I try to recall some of the more extensive conversations we've had. Today (Christmas Eve), Jerry had an argument with my Magic 8 Ball. You know, the toy you ask a question, shake up, and it presents a reply in a little window. This is the third argument in two weeks that he's had with my Magic 8 Ball. This argument culminated with him asking if I was insane (because I yelled at him to stop arguing with the 8 Ball). It kept saying: "Reply hazy", "ask again later", "cannot answer now". He sighed and shook the 8 Ball: "Why are you bein' so hard-headed!?"
I stood up, took the Magic 8 Ball from him. He was questioning MY sanity by asking a toy. Scratch that- by arguing with a toy.
He has also been known to refer to "disabled" as "disassemble". And he realizes it and says: "No disassemble, Stephanie!" (that's a reference to an 80s movie called "Short Circuit").
Another tidbit to leave you with- today he was watching the holiday episode of "iCarly" (he loves that show). Carly's brother built a magnetic Christmas tree that caught on fire. Kat (our 20 year old daughter) has never watched the episode and asked, as they were setting the tree up at the end of the episode, "They set it on fire again, don't they?"
The Disabled Guy replied: "No. They start humming the Snoopy song from Charlie's Angels."
For your enjoyment- here's a photo of the Disabled Guy.
We have three Chihuahuas and they're "his babies". The two pictured with him are Jasper (smaller, dark) and Luna (larger, fawn-colored). We have a puppy that is the result of Luna and Jasper- named Bruno. We also have a German Shepherd named Gypsy and four cats.
Oh, and just to show you, so you don't worry about him so much, Jerry is talented. After the stroke, he spent a lot of years puttering around the house. He'd follow behind me, doing the housework that I just finished. He'd reload the dishwasher after I loaded it, he'd dust the living room and vacuum. I finally stopped doing it. I figured, "Why bother?" because he'd just do it again ten minutes later. Before the stroke, Jerry used to build precision models. Airplanes, battleships, cars, trucks, helicopters, we even had the Starship Enterprise and a Klingon ship. Obviously, after losing the use of his one hand, he couldn't do that anymore.
He still managed to find his niche.
He builds things out of wood. Amazing things. ~Link to his Photobucket album~ All one-handed, left-handed.
Another quick sample to leave you with:
He asked: "What are you doing?" (his DVD just ended, so he had to get up)
I replied: "I started a blog called 'Conversations with the Disabled Guy'."
He exclaimed in mock anger: "WHY!?"
I answered: "Because you said I could."
He sighed, "Oh, yeah. Okay. So, is it good?"
I told him: "Not yet, but it will be."